Life Tech The start-up taking on the big telcos with its unlimited data plan

The start-up taking on the big telcos with its unlimited data plan

Telstra should be getting nervous about the arrival of MyRepublic in Australia. Photo: AAP
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A new player has entered the NBN Internet Service Provider (ISP) market, positioning itself to disrupt the competition and maybe even dethrone industry giant, Telstra – all with only one internet plan.

MyRepublic, an ISP that began life as a start-up in Singapore, will launch in Australia on November 15 and is already turning heads with its $59.99 per-month, ‘up to’ 100 megabytes-per-second, unlimited data NBN internet plan.

MyRepublic CEO Malcolm Rodrigues believes the government has built an adequate service that Australian ISPs have failed to take advantage of.

“Years ago, the NBN was not ready, but it is now,” said Mr Rodrigues.

“Telstra and the other companies created an NBN ‘last mile’ that plugs into the way they used to work, a pre-privatisation network – but, nothing has changed.

“We’ve built a network that is designed for the NBN. It’s built for video, it’s built for gaming – it’s a network that can take advantage of the existing ‘last mile’ NBN connection and provide a better experience.”

The NBN’s speed struggles

The indicated speed of MyRepublic’s plan, ‘up to’ 100Mbps, is a possible maximum download speed, but for many Australians this may be dependent on the NBN technology used to supply the property.

You can thank the rollercoaster ride the NBN infrastructure construction and installation has been on over the last few years for this, the result being a variety of technologies employed in NBN areas, all delivering varying speeds.

Originally planned as a Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) broadband network for all Australians – which promises speeds up to 100Mbps – successive changes by the Australian government now find the NBN suffering an identity crisis.

Various policy changes have kept the NBN from reaching its full potential. Photo: AAP
Various government policy changes have kept the NBN from reaching its full potential. Photo: AAP

After plans to roll out FTTP connections to all homes were scrapped, the service is now delivered by a Multi-Technology Mix (MTM), where optic fibre is either connected to the property, or run to a local node outside the area or up to the local telecommunications exchange.

Other methods involve using old Telstra and Optus networks once earmarked for decommission – the Hybrid-Fibre Cable (HFC) network.

While the many factors that come into play when dealing with a multi-technology system such as this can widely affect the speed a customer experiences, many may not be aware there are more options they could be enjoying.

“Customers take NBN and expect faster speeds, but they’re not getting them because they’re being put on the equivalent of what they originally had [with ADSL],” MyRepublic Managing Director, Australia, Nicholas Demos said.

“[We’ve] built ways to prioritise traffic to get better performance [from the network].”

Give the people what they want

It appears that MyRepublic’s arrival could not have come at a better time for many Australians.

A recent Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) quarterly Complaints in Context report indicates a sharp increase in customer complaints, with Telstra and Optus averaging around 7000 complaints each per quarter.

When it comes to ISP complaints, the top reasons customers complain are slow connection speed, poor customer service and hardware problems, such as a faulty router.

A 2015 survey by consumer organisation, CHOICE, found similar results; with customers rating Optus and Telstra the lowest of seven Australian ISPs.

Customer satisfaction is low with existing telcos like Optus and Telstra. Photo: AAP

MyRepublic’s approach is a far cry from the plethora of NBN plans available from Australian ISPs, all with data caps of varying degrees and a variety of speed options.

It’s not uncommon to see ‘standard’ speeds of up to 12Mbps for plans that cost more than MyRepublic’s single option.

“By being in the market, the competitors up their game,” said Mr Rodrigues. “They spend money on the network and engineer it to do things differently.

“Year over year, we’ll see a dramatic improvement in Australia’s [internet] ranking. In three to four years, Australia could be in the top 10.”

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